Message Number: YG1948 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-04-01 00:05:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Gerber chicken food vs "duck soup"

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., macdoodle99@y... wrote:
> To anyone, but especially Dr. Bruce Williams,
> My 7 year old ferret Mackenzie has not been eating for the last 2-3
> weeks. Last week when I first took her to see the vet, he
> recommended feeding her the Hills A/D canned food mixed with
> which I believe is believe is something like the "duck soup" that I
> keep reading about. She hates that stuff. I got on the internet
> read one of Dr. Williams articles about how to feed the Gerber
> chicken food and she has been eating it just fine from my fingers.
> can easily feed her a jar a day.
> I went back to see my vet today because Mackenzie was not improving
> and we did a blood sugar and it looks like she has insulinoma. He
> told me insulinomic ferrets frequently do not eat and that I can't
> sustain her on the Gerber chicken food and I should force feed her
> the Hills A/D canned food mixed with ensure with a syringe. I
> thought I read somewhere, but I can't find the article or email,
> Dr. Williams felt force feeding with a syringe was not a good idea
> because it can lead to aspiration. I also thought he was not a fan
> of the "duck soup" but I can't remember why and I can't remember
> long ferrets can be fed the Gerber chicken food.
> So far, Mackenzie has not lost any weight on the Gerber baby food.
> She has been on it a week. She may have even gained a bit. It
> seems more kind to give her want she will volunarily eat than to
> force feed her. What I really want to know is: Can I just keep
> feeding her the Gerber baby food? If so, for how long? Or do I
> really need to force feed her the "duck soup"?

Dear Kristy:

Your memory is excellent. I am not a fan of force feeding with a
syringe - as a pathologist, I have seen my share of aspiration
pneumonia, and in the vast majority of cases, the history includes
syringe feeding. This is not to say that it is a bad idea for
everyone - some owners (and ferrets) strike a good chord with it and
do quite well (but i wonder if with a little training, these animals
would not do the same from a bowl.

One of the nicest things about Gerber's is that it is finger fed.

While you can maintain a ferret for months on Gerber's alone, and for
literally years as the primary ingredient of the diet, it is not a
long-term solution by itself. Usually, if an animal will be on it
for longer than a month, I recommend grinding up a high-quality
ferret kibble in a coffee grinder and adding it to the baby food in
increments, to ensure an adequate level of appropriate vitamins and

While I try in every case to eventually return the animal to normal
kibble within a month or two, occasionally, there are some animals
that just won't do it. I have kept several thriving for years on the
baby food/kibble mix, and they have done quite well.

No, I don't beliefve that there is anything to be gained by switching
to a syringe-fed duck soup mixture, nad possibly in this case, we may
even lose ground in an animal that is doing well at the moment.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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